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In the Spirit of Julie and Julia - #27

Thursday, December 03, 2009

In the Spirit of Julie and Julia - #27

Days Remaining: 55

The Book: When You Eat at the Refrigerator, Pull Up a Chair - 50 Ways to Feel Thin, Gorgeous, and Happy (When You Feel Anything But), by Geneen Roth

#27 - More About Presence: The Practice of Sensing Your Arms and Legs

My arms and my legs. According to #27, I need to practice sensing my arms and legs. Those limbs that are attached to my body. Those ones? Seriously?

In reading this chapter a few things came to light for me. This is really about grabbing hold of our thoughts. And I know that if I give this analogy, you will all get it. The drive from home to work. You get from Point A to Point B, but you realize you don't remember getting there. We've all done it. And of course, this is because our thoughts take over. In a mere 20 seconds, I could think about what I'm doing, what I should be doing, what I'm not doing, and then someone else can say something that will trigger a memory and it will take me back to a time when I was six years old playing in the yard.

I don't know about the rest of you, but my thoughts are like some wildly growing vine out of the Congo. I wake up and immediately the vines start growing. It starts as a single thought and then branches out from there. By the time I get out of the shower, it is already a tangled mess. And by the end of the day, it can be strangling. There is no pattern to our thoughts.

So because of our crazy, random thought process, we rarely think about the vessel that carries us from one place to another. And our arms and legs do not carry emotion (no tears, no lumps in the throat, no longing for something), so we need to begin to make the connection with them. It's suggested that in the morning, before we get out of bed, we should focus on them. Start with one foot, the toes, arch, ankle, working your way up the leg. Move your awareness, maybe flex the muscles and stretch. Work up the leg, through the hip to the shoulder and through your arm, then across to the other arm and down to the other leg landing at the opposite foot from where you started. It should only take about five minutes. And if you remember your arms and legs at some point throughout the day, spend a few minutes doing it again.

My initial reaction is that this five minutes for the process is going to take up time that could be devoted to something else. Hmmmm . . . is that just that vine of thoughts strangling my brain?

According to the book, this process of being present and sensing our arms and legs will stretch time. It is our thoughts, our worried minds, and our constant jumping from one thought to another that makes us feel so rushed. Interesting thought! As we get older, we all have that sense that the days are flying by and time is passing too quickly. I think as we age, we have more memories and more thoughts to sort out. Is this a way to slow that down? It is surely worth a shot. I'll have to give it a try (especially on the weekend, which flies by much too quickly).

Another thought . . . "Presence enables you to see that this body, your home, the place you've spent years trying to change, is a pretty cool place to be."

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TALLTABBY 12/5/2009 7:48PM

  I don't know about calming my thoughts down. Sometimes I like my thoughts going crazy. But I guess I should give it a try. Once again more food for thought, thanks.

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FUNNINFIT 12/3/2009 1:51PM

    I read 'The Power of Now', but not really sure it quieted my mind so much as caused me to realize how little time I live 'in the present'!
I"ll try that exercise with the the extremities and maybe check out the book, too
THanks for sharing

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COFFEE666 12/3/2009 11:41AM

    I really like Geneen Roth's books. Although she can be a little whiny at times, she has some great insights.

The feeling your arms and legs pause is one that I use frequently when I begin to feel a disconnect with my body. It really does give you a chance to stop and check in with your physical being. I did the wake up and feel your legs thing on a weekend and it was an interesting experiment. I do not do everyday and really don't think I could but I do encourage you to try it at least once.

Another good book for helping to quiet the mind is "The Power of Now".

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In the Spirit of Julie and Julia - #26

Friday, November 27, 2009

In the Spirit of Julie and Julia - #26

Days Remaining: 58

The Book: When You Eat at the Refrigerator, Pull Up a Chair - 50 Ways to Feel Thin, Gorgeous, and Happy (When You Feel Anything But), by Geneen Roth

#26 - Wear Your Special-Occasion Clothes Any Old Day

I don't own a lot of special, flashy clothing. Every once in a while I do buy something that I consider "special" and I take note of the fact that when I wear it, I truly feel a bit more confident. It is interesting that if I'm having a "fat" day, I can put on one of my nicer articles of clothing and it truly spruces up my day and makes me feel 20 degrees higher on the scale of beautiful. How does that happen.

In working a five day week, I find that I have more favorite clothing items. When I wear them, it changes the way I feel when I walk down a hallway at work. Whether anyone else likes what I'm wearing makes no difference whatsoever. The fact is, I feel better in those articles and I feel it in every single stride that I take throughout the day.

So in reading this particular chapter, it makes me realize that I need to find a few more wardrobe pieces that bring on those good feelings, and I need to wear them when I want to wear them. It's interesting, because I know that I've bought some things in the past that I only wore for special occasions. They never got warn out, but they went out of style or just started to look "old" in the closet. You spend all that money on them, why not wear them and enjoy them any old day!

So it is a goal of mine to go out and buy a few articles of clothing that I might consider a little more special. Things I wouldn't normally choose as everyday pieces, and to wear them . . . whenever, wherever . . . however I want!

I invite you all to give it a shot. There is nothing better than feeling confident and special on just an ordinary day.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MYMAWSCRAPS 1/3/2010 7:40PM

    I've got this one licked...I can finally say, I don't have to consider your advice this time. I will share though...As soon as I got "the right size" to have American Eagle clothes, I ditched almost everything in the closet. I decided, even if it meant that I had fewer clothes...buying American Eagle (Approved by the fashion concious in my home, Of Course) made me feel confident, sexy, and in style...I would just have fewer things to wear and feel good all the time... I wait for the clearance sales and even trashed all the old panties for AE ones. TMI?
Well...I never go out wondering if I look cute...I feel great even in my flannel comfy clothes. Go for it Girlie, I hope you got some Great new stuff.

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SPIRITSEEKER2 11/27/2009 6:25PM

all my days are ordinary now.. I do have clothes that make me feel good and people seem to be nicer to me in.. I wear them all the time.. I need to find new ones, these will give out soon.

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TALLTABBY 11/27/2009 3:47PM

  I have found that I as I have lost weight, the more I like the things I wear. I really don't keep clothes for special occasions anymore. But I need a whole lot of everything right now. lol

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In the Spirit of Julie and Julia - #25

Monday, November 23, 2009

In the Spirit of Julie and Julia - #25

Days Remaining: 62

The Book: When You Eat at the Refrigerator, Pull Up a Chair - 50 Ways to Feel Thin, Gorgeous, and Happy (When You Feel Anything But), by Geneen Roth

#25 - Stare at Normal Women's Bodies (Normal Does Not Include Models, Actresses, and Elite Athletes)

My initial fear on this one is that I wouldn't want to stare at anyone. But if you want me to glance, peek, or glimpse, well then I could give it a shot.

The point here is that normal women have wrinkles and sags. Of course, we grow up as little girls idolizing photos in magazines and Barbie dolls. Think about it. If you drank enough water, exercised daily and ate all of the right foods, could you look like an air-brushed photo?

If you're out and about, really take some time to people watch. What you will see is real women. Real women is what living looks like. They wear the battle scars of working, loving, losing, hoping . . . you name it. "The goal of life is not to get through to the end and wind up looking like you just began."

So I spent the weekend in New York City. It wasn't warm out, so most woman had jackets or sweaters. It was interesting because some were bundled up like it was a cold winter day, while most were enjoying the great mid-November fall weather. It was a beautiful weekend. I took some time to really look at the woman . . .yes they were fully clothed . . . but I saw some real women out there. They definitely had some battle scars and had lived their lives. I also saw many who have a lot of living left to do! It is interesting to think about the imperfections as experienced living. It gives a whole new perspective.

Look at yourself in the mirror and be honest with yourself. Notice the stretch marks, wrinkles and many imperfections. Remember when you look at yourself in the mirror, "This is what living looks like. This is what loving looks like."

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SPIRITSEEKER2 11/24/2009 10:53AM

    Yes- live life and appreciate the character lines

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FUNNINFIT 11/23/2009 8:46PM

    our bodies are like a map of our lives=the older I get, the less I care about the little things, though!


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TALLTABBY 11/23/2009 6:00PM

  Once again great blog! I never have really taken the time just to look at real women as they walk down the street. I hate to admit it, but I spend more time judging then I would like to think about. I agree, every line, wrinkle and imperfection is just life's way of showing its self.

PS if you have not read the book Julie & Julia, its a great read!

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PFLEEG 11/23/2009 2:37PM

    Those wrinkles and lines tell a lifelong story. How boring things would be if women were all air brushed!

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In the Spirit of Julie and Julia - #24

Thursday, November 19, 2009

In the Spirit of Julie and Julia - #24

Days Remaining: 66

The Book: When You Eat at the Refrigerator, Pull Up a Chair - 50 Ways to Feel Thin, Gorgeous, and Happy (When You Feel Anything But), by Geneen Roth

#24 - When There Are Tigers Above You and Tigers Below You, Eat a Ripe Strawberry

So I read this one, and then I did what I usually do when I'm faced with a little confusion. I Googled. In some places I find out that this is a Buddist story, and in others I find out that it is Zen. I found the name of an author associated with it. I found the story retold by Nasruddin. In the end it is a story that many of us have heard before, and it has meaning.

"There is a story of a woman running away from tigers. She runs and runs and the tigers are getting closer and closer. When she comes to the edge of a cliff, she sees some vines there, so she climbs down and holds on to the vines. Looking down, she sees that there are tigers below her as well. She then notices that a mouse is gnawing away at the vine to which she is clinging. She also sees a beautiful little bunch of strawberries close to her, growing out of a clump of grass. She looks up and she looks down. She looks at the mouse. Then she just takes a strawberry, puts it in her mouth, and enjoys it thoroughly. Tigers above, tigers below. This is actually the predicament that we are always in, in terms of our birth and death. Each moment is just what it is. It might be the only moment of our life; it might be the only strawberry we’ll ever eat. We could get depressed about it, or we could finally appreciate it and delight in the preciousness of every single moment of our life. " Pema Chödrön (The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving Kindess).

So we start a diet and exercise regime. We lose weight. Then a family members gets ill or something happens. So you escape the tigers of food only to run into the tigers of a death in the family, a loss of income due to a layoff, etc.

We can't choose our tigers. They will appear just as surely as the sun will rise. We cannot all be lucky enough to live in a perfect world with no pain. It's how we tame the tigers that makes the difference. In taming the tigers, we have to make sure that we don't ignore the strawberries. We spend our lives thinking that there is something better out there, when in reality life is not perfect.

I decided to think about some of the tigers I have faced in the last two years. I was diagnosed with Graves Disease in February of 2008. I was feeling miserable . . . had weak muscles, shaking muscles, and muscles that would give out on me. My heart rate was over hundred most of the time, my hair was falling out, and my eyes couldn't handle sunlight. I was a basic mess. In fact, I truly thought I had MS. The diagnosis of Graves comes, I take the medication, and then I add an additional 35 pounds to my already obese body. So now my muscles feel better, I can handle the sunlight and my hair is sticking with me, but I've gained another 35 pounds. Tigers above and tigers below.

So in September of 2008 I begin losing weight on a very strict diet plan. When I say very strict, I truly mean VERY STRICT. It was 1,000 calories a day, mostly meal supplements. I was losing weight. I was feeling well trying to lose the 35 pounds I had gained, and then hopefully another 100 on top of that. To say that meal supplements were boring is an understatement. To say that I missed bread . . . clear understatement. I wasn't hungry for food, but I was beginning to crave everything I had given up.

In November, we get into a battle with our state over the sale of my mother-in-law's house. She is in a nursing home, running out of money, and they are now telling us that her house was undersold and they will not put her on State funds until we pay $200,000 to the state. Her money is gone. We hire a lawyer to cover our bases because everything was completely on the up and up on the house sale, and then just days later, my mother-in-law stops eating completely. She is unaware of the situation with the house because she has severe dementia, but we believe the timing is incredibly coincidental. She dies a few short days later. While dealing with our lawyers, we deal with her death. Tigers above.

My husband returns to work the day after the funeral, and he is called in that very first day back and told that his job has been eliminated. Hmmm . . . tigers below.

The two and half week's severance runs out and unemployment starts. Dealing with the death of your mom and the loss of a job takes quite a toll. Real food comes quickly after that. The weight creeps back on until I've gained even more weight.

Fast forward to July of 2009. My husband has found a job (not the perfect job, but it pays the bills). It has been months of fighting the tigers off with a chair. I am the highest weight I have ever been in my entire life, needing to lose in excess of 150 pounds. I am surely hanging off the cliff with tigers above and tigers below. At the end of my rope I find what I consider to be a really ripe strawberry. comes across my Google screen. I research a little. I join.

In a little less than four months I have lost 38 pounds. During those four months I have faced the death of a sibling, the suicide attempt of another sibling, the continuous battle with the state over the sale of my mother-in-law's house, and all while still losing weight. Something has truly made a difference, and it has to be Spark . . . although when I thanked SparkGuy for creating such a great site, he replied back to me and said that I was the one changing my life, that they were just helping.

My success has been in enjoying those things that are right in front of me, and not thinking that there has to be something better ahead. I take each day one day at a time and know that I have to tame the tigers and enjoy the strawberries.

Give some thought to the tigers you've faced in the last couple of years or months. And make a promise that you'll pay a little more attention to the strawberries. Accepting the imperfections of our lives is a huge step toward taming the tigers!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MYMAWSCRAPS 1/3/2010 7:26PM

    And I thought the last 45 days of my life have never been visited by anyone elsa. Maybe not the same dreaded situations but the fear you feel in your heart is the same. Your strength is incredible and your attitude says alot about who you are inside. Hugs to you and your family. Thanks again for being an open book to your "spark" friends

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SPIRITSEEKER2 11/19/2009 8:15PM


WOW, I am sorry for all these things coming at you all at once.. It is great you are holding on and the loosing weight is going to save your health .. My prayers are with you and your family..
thank you for the tiger story, I had not heard it.. I saved it to my hard drive so I can read it when I need it..

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In the Spirit of Julie and Julia - #23

Monday, November 16, 2009

In the Spirit of Julie and Julia - #23

Days Remaining: 69

The Book: When You Eat at the Refrigerator, Pull Up a Chair - 50 Ways to Feel Thin, Gorgeous, and Happy (When You Feel Anything But), by Geneen Roth

#23 - Three Ways to Stop a Fat-and-Ugly Attack

How long has it been since we discussed the Fat-and-Ugly Attack? You remember . . . that judgmental blend of voices that tell us there is only one way to look, think, dress, act, breath, and that the way we are doing it is wrong. We addressed the Fat-and-Ugly Attack three months ago, and if you can't remember, you can always go back to #6 . . . "Learn to Recognize the Fat and Ugly Attack."

What's interesting about these attacks, is that we believe in our attack. When we are attacking ourselves for something, we believe that what we are attacking ourselves for is true. So in my case, I might attack myself for eating a cookie. Yes, it is true. I ate the cookie. I might attack myself because my pockets of my pants are puckering. Yes, it is true. My pants are too tight. But what is important to remember is that attacking ourselves will never lead to any sustained change. In fact, it really just serves to make us feel miserable about ourselves.

There are three things you can do to stop an attack. First, you can go outside, or to your car, or to an empty room (make sure it's empty). Tell yourself to "shut up." Second, end the tug-og-war with yourself. Sure, you can agree that you shouldn't have eaten the cookie, or that the pants are indeed too tight. It is what it is. And third, recognize the attack and brush it off.

In my particular case, instead of beating myself for eating a cookie, I'll try to recognize the other six cookies I didn't eat. Instead of being disgusted with myself for having puckering pockets, I'll try to remember how great it is that the pants actually zip up, when they didn't a few months back.

Disengage from the attack. Try to stay away from words such as should, shouldn't, right and wrong.

Defend yourself, because every single time you do, you gain strength. And with this strength will come change.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BOOMERGRL 11/16/2009 8:53PM

    Love your attitude!

Today I ate one of my FAVORITE treats.....a Russian tea biscuit...not a good thing. BUT I shared it with my mom, it was the first one I've had in months, I was still within my calorie goals and I enjoyed every crumb...all of which are very good things!

So tomorrow is a new day, with no Russian tea biscuits or guilt about today!

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SPIRITSEEKER2 11/16/2009 8:07PM


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PATTIDGN 11/16/2009 7:48PM

    great blog...thanks!!!

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JCHOATEX2 11/16/2009 6:58PM

    Excellent blog! I admit I haven't read ALL of your Julie/Julia blogs, but I've read a few of them! I like this one.

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